The Choice is Yours
Have you ever had one of those days where it seems that everything that could possibly go wrong, does? Well, I had an absolute doozy recently.
On the day in question, I reluctantly got out of bed (as I do every morning) and headed to the bathroom, still half-awake. As I walked into the room, I felt something between my toes that could signal only one of two things, neither of which is good. We have three dogs. I’m going to leave it there, as I’m sure you read me.
I somehow managed to find the humour in this, and decided that if it had to happen I’d rather be headed for the shower than back to bed. The sign of a true optimist.
Over the next two hours, a series of events ensued that made me want to retreat back under the covers.
For starters there was no coffee to be found (or tea). A phone call from the dentist’s office indicated that I had missed an early appointment (I hadn’t been for months). My son had forgotten to write his work hours on the calendar (this makes me craaazy). He came out to the kitchen, frantic about getting to work. I had a client call shortly and had to cut it way too close for comfort. I drove my son to work, and as I pulled into the driveway, noting that I had one minute to make it up to my office, the engine light came on. My car had just been in for service two days earlier.
And all that was before 9:30am!
After my call, I sat at my desk trying to ground myself.
To put things into context, just two months earlier I had arrived home after being away for 6 months. My daughter was battling an eating disorder, and with no in-patient program locally we had to travel to Ottawa, 3 and a half hours away.
The day I got the call from the hospital (telling me to arrive the next day at 1pm), I had been with my Mom who was in palliative care. As I looked around my office that morning, it occurred to me that I literally hadn’t had time to fully unpack. Ugh.
Sitting on the corner of a side table was the bulletin from my Mom’s Celebration of Life. I had only seen her once since I had been away with my daughter, and that day happened to be the one she passed. Her Celebration had been one month earlier. I thought about her and felt the weight of guilt settle in; I should have made the time to get to Toronto to see her more than I had.
The crisis with my daughter had understandably hijacked the lion’s share of my brain, and what was left was used to launch a new program and maintain my work with clients. As I sat there contemplating all that had happened, I felt a pang of sadness and despair – the events of my morning adding yet another layer.
Are You Marinating in Your Woes?
Then it hit me. I was “marinating in my woes…”
Now, let’s be real about this. I had been dangerously close to losing my daughter, and I hadn’t properly grieved the loss of my Mom. These were both VERY real and monumental events. However, I knew better than to let myself get sucked into the vortex of negative thinking. I had let the events of the morning dictate my mindset. If I hadn’t caught myself, I know with certainty that I would have experienced an entire day (or more) of needless unhappiness and self pity.
The Way Out
Here’s what I did. I hope this helps you get yourself out of a funk when your turn arrives!
(As an aside, there’s an amazing song by Jason Mraz which I love called Three Little Things. It’s an incredibly uplifting song about how he handles things when his world falls apart. I’ll include a link at the end for you.)
In that moment, I realized that I had a choice to make. I could choose to slide down the path to misery, or I could get wise and take the road less traveled.
That day I had to dig way down deep. I made my choice, but before I took the first step I gave my permission to have a really good boo-hoo. One of those ugly-cries that not enough tissues in the world can mop up. I know that the first step to shifting things is to give yourself permission to really “feel your feelings” and acknowledge what’s there.
The more you push your feelings down, the more they’ll persist.
Then I spend 15 minutes tapping. I immediately felt some better. Nothing like a good “sob ‘n tap” to move the process along.
Next I started to think about what I was grateful for.
- Against all odds, I had been there with my Mom when she passed. What a blessing it was to hold her hand and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she knew I was there.
- My daughter was alive. Yes, it was a horrific experience, but she had come through it. I knew it would take time, but I saw her becoming more confident and resilient as a result of her experience. I had faith that she’d make it.
- My son was doing well. He was working and his health was good. I was grateful that he was a kind and sensitive soul, and I knew that he’d contribute to our world.
- My husband had kept the ship afloat while we were away (a true miracle).
- I had launched a successful program while I was in Ottawa, despite the circumstances. The Better Behaviour Bootcamp for ASD Moms was something I was immensely proud of and I acknowledged that it was having the impact I intended.
The act of shifting my focus to what I was grateful for was helping. I listened to “the Jason song,” and I was back on track. Phew. The rest of the day was infinitely better than the start, and I was good to go.
Where your Attention Goes, Your Energy Flows
I don’t know who came up with this saying, but I do know that it’s true. Think about it for a moment.
If you allow yourself to focus on what’s wrong in your lives for an extended period of time without taking action to shift your mindset, your energy will follow suit, and you’ll wind up miserable and unhappy. This will undoubtedly impact your relationships with your partner and of course your children.
I believe that our ASD children are “energy sponges!”
Neuroscience Has Proven It
It’s been scientifically proven that if we’re chronically looking at things from a negative perspective, our brains will become “wired” to continue doing so. The more we focus on the negative, the harder it is to get out of the habit. Just like the saying says, when it comes to our brains, “What fires together, wires together.”
Here’s an example.
When you expect rudeness from people, you are setting yourself up to be more attentive to it, even if it’s something you don’t want! And when you’re more attentive to something, you are more likely to find it — at the expense of not being attentive to the things you’re not paying attention to.
For example, if I told you to stop for a minute and look around you for all the things that are the color red, your brain will register all the things around you that are red and, as a result, you would be able to list them with a high degree of accuracy. But then if I immediately told you to close your eyes and now list all the things that are the color blue in the room you just searched, there is a good chance you would miss several of them — because you weren’t looking for blue, you were looking for red.
Here’s a quote from Dr. Robert Anthony, performance expert and author. “The primary function of the subconscious mind is to follow the instructions of the conscious mind. It does this by “proving” that whatever the conscious mind believes is true.
In other words, the job of the subconscious mind is to prove the conscious mind is always “right.” So, if you consciously believe that you can’t be, do, or have something, the subconscious will create the circumstances and find the people to prove that you are ‘right.’
The type of thoughts you hold in your head have a direct impact on the reality you perceive. This includes the severity of aches and pains you experience, as well as how gracefully you age! I find this incredibly interesting and relevant to you and I as parents of children affected by autism.
There’s no question that raising a child with ASD is difficult; it can be insanely difficult. I know first hand. However, no matter what the circumstances are, we always have a choice about what we focus on… always. If we choose to focus on what’s wrong in our lives, we’ll be miserable and we’ll suffer and so will those around us.
We always have the option to see things from a different perspective. We can choose to enjoy a few moments of calm, appreciate the flowers in our garden or anything for that matter.
So, to recap, here’s the process I use when I get into a funk:
- Really, really feel your feelings for a period of time. Give yourself permission to wallow, cry, scream, rant or whatever you need to do. Get it out of your system.
- Make a conscious decision to try again; dust yourself off and put your shoulders back.
- Tap. If you’re not familiar with EFT, I highly recommend you try it. I’ll post a link to a great site that has “tap along” videos you can use. This will help to raise your energetic vibration so you begin to feel more emotionally calm and centered.
- Make a list of what you’re grateful for. Listen to uplifting music, go for a walk or watch one of the thousands of hilarious cat videos on Youtube!
If you’re ready to make a change in your life, and see autism in a different way, here’s a link to check out my program, Lemons to Lemonade Better Behaviour Bootcamp. It will give you the tools to shift your mindset, learn to manage your child’s difficult behaviour, and build a more positive and loving relationship with him or her!
Here’s a link to the Jason Mraz song I mentioned. It’s guaranteed to life your mood! I hope you enjoy it. Three Little Things
Here’s a link to the Tapping Solution. There you’ll find a ton of science and helpful resources, along with the tap along videos I mentioned.
“The good guy doesn’t always win and justice doesn’t always prevail, but where you direct your mental energy will always determine your attitude and it will always be controlled by you.”
— Steve Siebold
You’re not alone. We can help you place your focus where it needs to be and help you find the lemonade in all situations. Join us inside our Lemons to Lemonade Public Facebook Group